I Love/Hate Kobe
Casey has beef with the game’s most pure scorer.
by Casey Jacobsen
Kobe Bean Bryant, playing in his 16th year in the NBA, refuses to give up his top-dog status among the elite players. This condensed season is only 12 games old, but Kobe’s recent play is fueling discussions about him still being the best pure scorer in the League despite the younger LeBron James and Kevin Durant nipping at his heels.
Following the Lakers’ embarrassing Playoff loss to Dallas last season, many people wondered if his reign over the League might be coming to an end. But it’s not over. Not even close. Kobe is one of the all-time greatest players to ever play this game. He’s the closest thing we have ever seen to Michael Jordan…but I still don’t like him.
(Note: I know that Kobe doesn’t care at all if I like him or not…after all, who am I? But this is my blog, so I will assume that some of the readers might care. Let’s move on.)
Kobe is one of the most polarizing athletes in the League for a reason; through all of his success that he has earned, he rubs a lot of people the wrong way. It’s in his body language on the court, or the way he shoots over double-teams even though his capable teammates are unguarded, or when he gives himself the nickname “Black Mamba.”
Even his spectacular games sometimes make me cringe, like when he scored a Madison Square Garden record of 61 points in 2009, coupled with 0 rebounds and 3 assists. As impossible as it is to score that many points in the NBA on the road, it’s equally impossible to have that kind of athleticism and not get a single rebound.
Shaq, one of the most likable players in NBA history, hated playing with him. Even the best NBA coach of our lifetime, Phil Jackson, described Kobe in his most recent book as being “uncoachable.” Look, that’s not my opinion or that of a die-hard Celtics fan. That’s the opinion of his coach! Kobe’s a great player and athlete, but is too much to ask him to be coachable? Is it too much to ask him to put his differences aside and get along with the best NBA center of the past 15 years so they could continue winning titles? I don’t think so.
Most Kobe fanatics will tell you that he has to be the way he is (arrogant, selfish, etc.) in order to be as good as he is. Those people will also tell you that MJ was the same way and that’s why he won all those titles. After all, how can we expect Kobe to be a “killer” on the court and a good teammate? Can one not exist without the other?
Maybe we should ask Bill Russell.
Casey Jacobsen is a former SLAM High School First-Team All-American and NCAA First-Team All-American. He currently plays for Brose Baskets in Bamberg, Germany.